Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Alun Rowe



On 09/02/2009 23:15, Christopher Woods chris...@infinitus.co.uk wrote:
 unless some incredibly
 well-designed thin client solutions were brought to my attention (and then
 you're talking equivalent prices for thin clients as you would for regular
 MiniATX desktops).

I'm not sure that a thin client can, as you suggest, handle the requirements
of a school's media department, in this instance you would place a
desktop/tower instead.

We run a mixed client setup for a number of housing associations in the UK
where the majority of users (admin/management etc), who do not require huge
graphics capability, run with a Wyse terminal and the planning department
(for example) will have a well specced Dell machine.

As you suggest a decent thin client will cost you as much as a MiniATX
machine BUT it has much lower power consumption and have a potential life of
8 years or more.  Typically a PC if having to run Windows will be lifed at 3
years.  So after 3 years where a typical Windows environment will be
replaced in toto we are simply adding more power to our VMWare server pool.

 I'm still personally very sceptical of thin client solutions, I don't think
 their capabilities ar sufficient to satisfy all the potential uses for
 educational machines. And I wouldn't like to have all that total reliance on
 just a handful of extremely powerful servers; it's bad enough when the
 Internet proxy server goes down or the network drive can't be accessed
 because the Active Directory is having a fit, but to have a classful of
 children sitting in front of dumb terminals when the primary host server for
 that classroom's client machines goes down? Wuh oh.

You can run multiple head servers and backend pool for a TS environment.
 
 Maybe my mistrust is misplaced, and thin clients are actually really quite
 good at most things now... Perhaps my perception of them, like many other
 peoples', is part of the problem which needs to be addressed. There must be
 some reason other than bloody-mindedness that makes schools keep on going
 for full-PC solutions time after time though...

Really?  In my experience school IT staff are generally beholden to RM or
similar and do as they are told.  RM would see a MASSIVE drop in hardware
sales if they pushed people onto thin client do to the reasons I list above.
So I can't see them doing it anytime soon...

I do aim to do more work in
 the educational sector as my own business gets going in the next few years,
 and I want to offer all kinds of viable solutions as long as they work well
 for everybody. Do you really think that setups like the LTSP are as
 competitive as regular networks of fairly powerful x86 machines and central
 file/print/etc servers for secondary school environments? (not being sarkies
 here, genuinely interested to know your thoughts and prepared to do a lot of
 reading if you have suggested starting points).

I've unfortunately not had enough experience of a pure FOSS network and
would definintely like to see more.  My IT company are always looking to
improve things!  The couple of Ubuntu servers we run for Web Services/SVN
etc are wonderfully reliable.  But...

//personal rant coming up...

For any open source software (Linux for example) to really work on the
network en mass we need to about user experience.  Currently I've yet to see
an attractive/user friendly piece of FOSS.  Whilst the software (once you've
worked out how to use it) is extremely effective IMO user experience is a
big part of the software which usually gets overlooked in FOSS scenarios. I
think FOSS can have a huge future but the community need to think about user
experience then it will be taken more seriously.



Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Alun Rowe
 
³Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices to
schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license for Office.²

It is cheaper but not that cheap...

For example:

MS Office single license = £43 + £25 Software assurance
Windows Server Standard (Single License) = £85 + £42 software assurance


³Parents have an expectation that MS Office will be taught in the classroom
as it is what they know and use in their work place.²

Most parents I know are not that worried about what is used but they are
concerned about compatibility with their home machine etc.

³The majority of schools have limited IT resources and might have limited
experience of using and securing Linux and other open source software.  They
could be substantial costs in retraining staff.²

Yes they would have limited experience but nothing a bit of training
wouldn¹t cover IMO.

³I totally agree that opensource has a great to offer schools with
applications like Moodle, Audacity and many others, but currently I don't
think many schools are ready for Linux/Ubuntu and OpenOffice.²

I don¹t think most users would care if you ran Ubuntu/OpenOffice.  Beyond
that we come back to my argument regarding the user interface where,
unfortunately, most of the open source software loses out big time!


Alun Rowe
Pentangle Internet Limited
2 Buttermarket
Thame
Oxfordshire
OX9 3EW
Tel: +44 8700 339905
Fax: +44 8700 339906
Please direct all support requests to mailto:it-supp...@pentangle.co.uk 
Pentangle Internet Limited is a limited company registered in England and 
Wales. Registered number: 3960918. Registered office: 1 Lauras Close, Great 
Staughton, Cambridgeshire PE19 5DP

  
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Phil Whitehouse
I think FOSS can have a huge future but the community need to think about
user experience then it will be taken more seriously.

FWIW I've just come back from FOSDEM (open source community event in
Brussels), and there are plenty of open source projects now putting
usability at the top of their requirements list - and are hiring
accordingly. These include Ubuntu, Firefox (of course!), Drupal and
Mediawiki. Those are just the ones I know about. Hopefully we'll see some
positive results in the coming months and years.

Phil

On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 9:13 AM, Alun Rowe alun.r...@pentangle.co.ukwrote:




 On 09/02/2009 23:15, Christopher Woods chris...@infinitus.co.uk wrote:
  unless some incredibly
  well-designed thin client solutions were brought to my attention (and
 then
  you're talking equivalent prices for thin clients as you would for
 regular
  MiniATX desktops).

 I'm not sure that a thin client can, as you suggest, handle the
 requirements
 of a school's media department, in this instance you would place a
 desktop/tower instead.

 We run a mixed client setup for a number of housing associations in the UK
 where the majority of users (admin/management etc), who do not require huge
 graphics capability, run with a Wyse terminal and the planning department
 (for example) will have a well specced Dell machine.

 As you suggest a decent thin client will cost you as much as a MiniATX
 machine BUT it has much lower power consumption and have a potential life
 of
 8 years or more.  Typically a PC if having to run Windows will be lifed at
 3
 years.  So after 3 years where a typical Windows environment will be
 replaced in toto we are simply adding more power to our VMWare server pool.

  I'm still personally very sceptical of thin client solutions, I don't
 think
  their capabilities ar sufficient to satisfy all the potential uses for
  educational machines. And I wouldn't like to have all that total reliance
 on
  just a handful of extremely powerful servers; it's bad enough when the
  Internet proxy server goes down or the network drive can't be accessed
  because the Active Directory is having a fit, but to have a classful of
  children sitting in front of dumb terminals when the primary host server
 for
  that classroom's client machines goes down? Wuh oh.

 You can run multiple head servers and backend pool for a TS environment.

  Maybe my mistrust is misplaced, and thin clients are actually really
 quite
  good at most things now... Perhaps my perception of them, like many other
  peoples', is part of the problem which needs to be addressed. There must
 be
  some reason other than bloody-mindedness that makes schools keep on going
  for full-PC solutions time after time though...

 Really?  In my experience school IT staff are generally beholden to RM or
 similar and do as they are told.  RM would see a MASSIVE drop in hardware
 sales if they pushed people onto thin client do to the reasons I list
 above.
 So I can't see them doing it anytime soon...

 I do aim to do more work in
  the educational sector as my own business gets going in the next few
 years,
  and I want to offer all kinds of viable solutions as long as they work
 well
  for everybody. Do you really think that setups like the LTSP are as
  competitive as regular networks of fairly powerful x86 machines and
 central
  file/print/etc servers for secondary school environments? (not being
 sarkies
  here, genuinely interested to know your thoughts and prepared to do a lot
 of
  reading if you have suggested starting points).

 I've unfortunately not had enough experience of a pure FOSS network and
 would definintely like to see more.  My IT company are always looking to
 improve things!  The couple of Ubuntu servers we run for Web Services/SVN
 etc are wonderfully reliable.  But...

 //personal rant coming up...

 For any open source software (Linux for example) to really work on the
 network en mass we need to about user experience.  Currently I've yet to
 see
 an attractive/user friendly piece of FOSS.  Whilst the software (once
 you've
 worked out how to use it) is extremely effective IMO user experience is a
 big part of the software which usually gets overlooked in FOSS scenarios. I
 think FOSS can have a huge future but the community need to think about
 user
 experience then it will be taken more seriously.




-- 
http://philwhitehouse.blogspot.com


Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Rob Myers
On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 9:13 AM, Alun Rowe alun.r...@pentangle.co.uk wrote:

 //personal rant coming up...

 For any open source software (Linux for example) to really work on the
 network en mass we need to about user experience.  Currently I've yet to see
 an attractive/user friendly piece of FOSS.

Anecdotally, I find that Inkscape is much better usability wise than
Illustrator, and that Firefox is much less awful than IE's menu bar
idiocy.

The free desktop experience has become more unified as the Mac one has
become more fragmented.

 Whilst the software (once you've
 worked out how to use it) is extremely effective IMO user experience is a
 big part of the software which usually gets overlooked in FOSS scenarios. I
 think FOSS can have a huge future but the community need to think about user
 experience then it will be taken more seriously.

Be careful what you wish for: the current KDE 4 train wreck came from
the developers focussing on user experience. It's an interface so
godawful that everyone I have seen use it has been personally offended
by it. ;-)

The desktop user experience with Free Software is getting much better.
For me personally it's become a non issue over the last two years
(before then I might have agreed with you more).

But for many people, usability equals familiarity; making it work as
badly as Windows. ;-)

- Rob.
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Fearghas McKay


On 10 Feb 2009, at 09:23, Alun Rowe wrote:



“Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices  
to schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license  
for Office.”


It is cheaper but not that cheap...


At Glasgow University it used to be nearly that cheap - because there  
was a site wide licence students could get a set of discs for ~£10.   
Which probably only just about covered the costs of the admin and the  
floppies.


The current retail price for a 3 user Home/School use only copy is  
£99, inc VAT, so £33 a user.


f
 
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Alun Rowe
 
I was basing it on purchasing a single copy.  Purchasing a site wide license
for say 500 desktops would see significant savings.

The Home/Student edition is cheaper but that's not for schools to use, it's
for the students to have on their own laptops which they aren't allowed to
connect to the school wifi...


On 10/02/2009 09:44, Fearghas McKay fm-li...@st-kilda.org wrote:

 
 On 10 Feb 2009, at 09:23, Alun Rowe wrote:
 
 
 ³Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices
 to schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license
 for Office.²
 
 It is cheaper but not that cheap...
 
 At Glasgow University it used to be nearly that cheap - because there
 was a site wide licence students could get a set of discs for ~£10.
 Which probably only just about covered the costs of the admin and the
 floppies.
 
 The current retail price for a 3 user Home/School use only copy is
 £99, inc VAT, so £33 a user.
 
 f
   
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 Sent via the backstage.bbc.co.uk discussion group.  To unsubscribe, please
 visit http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/archives/2005/01/mailing_list.html.
 Unofficial list archive:
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 This message (and any associated files) is intended only for the use of the
 individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that
 is confidential, subject to copyright or constitutes a trade secret. If you
 are not the intended recipient you are hereby notified that any dissemination,
 copying or distribution of this message, or files associated with this
 message, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error,
 please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from
 your computer. Messages sent to and from us may be monitored.
  
 Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as
 information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or
 incomplete, or contain viruses. Therefore, we do not accept responsibility for
 any errors or omissions that are present in this message, or any attachment,
 that have arisen as a result of e-mail transmission. If verification is
 required, please request a hard-copy version. Any views or opinions presented
 are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the
 company.



Alun Rowe
Pentangle Internet Limited
2 Buttermarket
Thame
Oxfordshire
OX9 3EW
Tel: +44 8700 339905
Fax: +44 8700 339906
Please direct all support requests to mailto:it-supp...@pentangle.co.uk 
Pentangle Internet Limited is a limited company registered in England and 
Wales. Registered number: 3960918. Registered office: 1 Lauras Close, Great 
Staughton, Cambridgeshire PE19 5DP

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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Alun Rowe
On 10/02/2009 09:36, Rob Myers r...@robmyers.org wrote:

 On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 9:13 AM, Alun Rowe alun.r...@pentangle.co.uk wrote:
 
 //personal rant coming up...
 
 For any open source software (Linux for example) to really work on the
 network en mass we need to about user experience.  Currently I've yet to see
 an attractive/user friendly piece of FOSS.
 
 Anecdotally, I find that Inkscape is much better usability wise than
 Illustrator, and that Firefox is much less awful than IE's menu bar
 idiocy.

There are obviously exceptions to prove the rule :)
 
 Be careful what you wish for: the current KDE 4 train wreck came from
 the developers focussing on user experience. It's an interface so
 godawful that everyone I have seen use it has been personally offended
 by it. ;-)

The problem with usability is that everyone has their own way of doing
things!  
 
 The desktop user experience with Free Software is getting much better.
 For me personally it's become a non issue over the last two years
 (before then I might have agreed with you more).

It is getting better but it's still not 'Dad' proof (My dad has an extremely
short fuse when it comes to computers having programmed them since he left
school (with punch cards!) through to RPG based Advanced 36's).  Once my dad
is happy using them then the revolution may begin!
 
 But for many people, usability equals familiarity; making it work as
 badly as Windows. ;-)

Firstly, not everything about Windows is bad, but I grant you lots of it is!
Secondly I'm not sure that people want it to be just like Windows.  Lots of
people try Macs and complain for about 30 minutes about it then when you try
to take the machine away at the end of the day they threaten you with
violence...  People WILL move but it has to be BETTER rather than different.



RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in stateschools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Andrew Bowden
 It goes deeper than this; currently there is no place in the 
 national curriculum to teach kids to touch type. So even 
 though they will most likely spend a large part of their time 
 on a keyboard no one thinks it appropriate to teach them an 
 effective way to do that.

Bet they know who was the king of England in 1658 though :) [1]

We place some interesting priorities on education.  It took years to get
even basic cooking skills on the educational menu, and even now it's
often shoved into hour long classes where no one has time to do anything
properly.  I didn't learn cookery at school.  Bit I did make a coat hook
in metalwork...

[1] Actually they don't but there's plenty of people who would place
that knowledge above typing skills.

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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Phil Whitehouse
The cost of school licences is a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of
lifetime subscription. Microsoft may be many things, but they aren't
stupid..!

Phil

On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 9:44 AM, Fearghas McKay fm-li...@st-kilda.orgwrote:


 On 10 Feb 2009, at 09:23, Alun Rowe wrote:


 Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices to
 schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license for Office.

 It is cheaper but not that cheap...


 At Glasgow University it used to be nearly that cheap - because there was a
 site wide licence students could get a set of discs for ~£10.  Which
 probably only just about covered the costs of the admin and the floppies.

 The current retail price for a 3 user Home/School use only copy is £99, inc
 VAT, so £33 a user.


f
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 Sent via the backstage.bbc.co.uk discussion group.  To unsubscribe, please
 visit http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/archives/2005/01/mailing_list.html.
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-- 
http://philwhitehouse.blogspot.com


Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Fearghas McKay


On 10 Feb 2009, at 09:51, Alun Rowe wrote:

I was basing it on purchasing a single copy.  Purchasing a site wide  
license

for say 500 desktops would see significant savings.



Which was Adam's point.

The Home/Student edition is cheaper but that's not for schools to  
use, it's
for the students to have on their own laptops which they aren't  
allowed to

connect to the school wifi...


??

Well I had better remove the copies off my son's desktop and tell him  
not to connect to his school network with the laptop...


Really ? Do you have a citation for that? My reading of the licence  
didn't not include those restrictions on the Mac version, albeit a  
couple of years ago when we purchased the software.


f
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Alun Rowe



On 10/02/2009 10:24, Fearghas McKay fm-li...@st-kilda.org wrote:
 I was basing it on purchasing a single copy.  Purchasing a site wide
 license
 for say 500 desktops would see significant savings.
 
 
 Which was Adam's point.

Indeed, the figures I included on the first email were just an example
 
 The Home/Student edition is cheaper but that's not for schools to
 use, it's
 for the students to have on their own laptops which they aren't
 allowed to
 connect to the school wifi...
 
 ??
 
 Well I had better remove the copies off my son's desktop and tell him
 not to connect to his school network with the laptop...
 
 Really ? Do you have a citation for that? My reading of the licence
 didn't not include those restrictions on the Mac version, albeit a
 couple of years ago when we purchased the software.

The copy on your son's computer is fine, he is a student after all.  It is a
Home/Student Edition.  When I say not for School + mean a school could not
use it as a base install throughout their class rooms as it would be being
licensed to a business (the school) not an individual user.

As for connecting his laptop to WiFi I was being slightly tongue in cheek as
most schools won't let kids on the network with their own machine due to
security restrictions.



Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Lee Stone
If the home/school copy works out at £33 each, you might as well look at
purchasing from www.theultimatesteal.com

Get office ultimate 2007 for £38.95 - I believe this is the second year
they've done it now as I took advantage of it last year as a student. It
certainly makes it a lot more affordable.

The one office I use quite a bit at the university has only open office as
the office suite on one of the computers. It's amazing how many people it
drives mad, to the point they refuse to use it and try to swap with the
person on the machine with the whole microsoft office suite on it. Perhaps
we have to start using these alternatives earlier on for them to be
accepted.

Lee


2009/2/10 Fearghas McKay fm-li...@st-kilda.org


 On 10 Feb 2009, at 09:23, Alun Rowe wrote:


 Microsoft offers the OS and Office at extremely competitive prices to
 schools.  I have heard it quoted as being around £5 per license for Office.

 It is cheaper but not that cheap...


 At Glasgow University it used to be nearly that cheap - because there was a
 site wide licence students could get a set of discs for ~£10.  Which
 probably only just about covered the costs of the admin and the floppies.

 The current retail price for a 3 user Home/School use only copy is £99, inc
 VAT, so £33 a user.


f
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 Sent via the backstage.bbc.co.uk discussion group.  To unsubscribe, please
 visit http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/archives/2005/01/mailing_list.html.
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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Fearghas McKay


On 10 Feb 2009, at 10:41, Lee Stone wrote:

Get office ultimate 2007 for £38.95 - I believe this is the second  
year they've done it now as I took advantage of it last year as a  
student. It certainly makes it a lot more affordable.


That would mean running Windaes and me having to support it so no  
thanks :-)


f

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RE: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Gareth Davis
Something not being discussed, is that there can be any amount of take
up of open source platforms within a school - you don't have to go 100%.

Way back in my sixth form days (1996) between the Head of Learning
Resources, a former student who was now at university and myself - we
replaced the ageing Econet/SJ MDFS network with Ethernet and Slackware
Linux fileservers over a period of several months. The Acorn Archimedes
and Risc PC boxes all had Omniclient to NFS mount the Linux filestores,
and the Win 3.1/95 PCs used Samba. The Linux boxes also provided the
usual central network services such as DNS, DHCP, email and a proxy
server to allow internet access. Later we managed to convince the local
cable TV company to give us a 2Mbps/G703 circuit between us and the
local university for next to nothing to replace the ISDN line coming out
of one of the servers.

With the central infrastructure changed it really didn't matter what the
machines ran. At the time it made sense that the rooms teaching
vocational courses used Windows OS and Microsoft applications, and other
areas could continue to use the Acorn machines as the software was
perfectly up to the job. If you could format a document in say,
Impression Publisher on an Acorn, then using Microsoft Word or
Wordperfect on a PC afterwards really wasn't a big learning curve.
Although some of the Acorn Risc PCs did have Intel coprocessor cards so
could run Windows 95 as well as Risc OS. Quite what they are using now I
don't know, I expect Active Directory has made things a little more
complicated to maintain the single sign on environment we had set up
then.

Things have moved on in the last 12 years, but I think if Acorn were
still in existence then schools probably would still be using them, as
the skills are transferable - and the machines are designed to be used
in an classroom environment. But once they were no longer available
schools had a choice, either bring in another platform to teach
'transferable skills' (Mac, or PC/Linux), or get the PC/Windows platform
and teach the 'correct' skills first time. As has already been
mentioned, the knowledge of the staff has to be taken into account so
chances are PC/Windows was the comfortable choice. But schools have
already made a transition away from Risc OS to Windows, so another
transition may not be out of the question.

IMHO if the Linux environment was as well developed as it is today when
Acorn closed down, then I can see how a lot of schools could have moved
straight across. As it was common practise to teach 'transferable
skills' from a non Windows platform then. Now I think there would have
to be some very clear cut benefits to convince schools and parents that
it was a good idea.

-- 
Gareth Davis | Production Systems Specialist
World Service Future Media, Digital Delivery Team - Part of BBC Global
News Division
* http://www.bbcworldservice.com/ * 702NE Bush House, Strand, London,
WC2B 4PH


 

 -Original Message-
 From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk 
 [mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of Mr I Forrester
 Sent: 09 February 2009 14:24
 To: BBC Backstage
 Subject: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used 
 in state schools free and open source
 
 Seen this in my mailbox a few times today, sure you will all 
 find this interesting...
 
 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make the 
 primary operating system used in state schools free and open source
 
 http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nonMSschools/
 
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RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Gareth Davis
 -Original Message-
 From: owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk 
 [mailto:owner-backst...@lists.bbc.co.uk] On Behalf Of Richard Smedley
 Sent: 09 February 2009 18:32
 To: backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk
 Subject: RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state 
 schools FOSS

 PCs in schools are mandated to teach 
 curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through 500 - 
 600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from 
 government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend) 
 would get all of these apps written. Released under the GNU 
 GPL, they would be tweaked and improved by thousands of 
 teachers and students.
 

You mean like BBC Jam? Can't see how this idea wouldn't end up in the
European Court for the same reasons.

-- 
Gareth Davis | Production Systems Specialist
World Service Future Media, Digital Delivery Team - Part of BBC Global
News Division
* http://www.bbcworldservice.com/ * 702NE Bush House, Strand, London,
WC2B 4PH


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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Neil Aberdeen
Interesting as all these discussions are schools will have what's given 
to them and supported under BSF monoploy IT provision (see 
http://www.edugeek.net/wiki/index.php/List_of_awarded_ICT_contracts) 
unless there is resistance and/or failure (see 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7841850.stm)


Gareth Davis wrote:

Something not being discussed, is that there can be any amount of take
up of open source platforms within a school - you don't have to go 100%.

Way back in my sixth form days (1996) between the Head of Learning
Resources, a former student who was now at university and myself - we
replaced the ageing Econet/SJ MDFS network with Ethernet and Slackware
Linux fileservers over a period of several months. The Acorn Archimedes
and Risc PC boxes all had Omniclient to NFS mount the Linux filestores,
and the Win 3.1/95 PCs used Samba. The Linux boxes also provided the
usual central network services such as DNS, DHCP, email and a proxy
server to allow internet access. Later we managed to convince the local
cable TV company to give us a 2Mbps/G703 circuit between us and the
local university for next to nothing to replace the ISDN line coming out
of one of the servers.

With the central infrastructure changed it really didn't matter what the
machines ran. At the time it made sense that the rooms teaching
vocational courses used Windows OS and Microsoft applications, and other
areas could continue to use the Acorn machines as the software was
perfectly up to the job. If you could format a document in say,
Impression Publisher on an Acorn, then using Microsoft Word or
Wordperfect on a PC afterwards really wasn't a big learning curve.
Although some of the Acorn Risc PCs did have Intel coprocessor cards so
could run Windows 95 as well as Risc OS. Quite what they are using now I
don't know, I expect Active Directory has made things a little more
complicated to maintain the single sign on environment we had set up
then.

Things have moved on in the last 12 years, but I think if Acorn were
still in existence then schools probably would still be using them, as
the skills are transferable - and the machines are designed to be used
in an classroom environment. But once they were no longer available
schools had a choice, either bring in another platform to teach
'transferable skills' (Mac, or PC/Linux), or get the PC/Windows platform
and teach the 'correct' skills first time. As has already been
mentioned, the knowledge of the staff has to be taken into account so
chances are PC/Windows was the comfortable choice. But schools have
already made a transition away from Risc OS to Windows, so another
transition may not be out of the question.

IMHO if the Linux environment was as well developed as it is today when
Acorn closed down, then I can see how a lot of schools could have moved
straight across. As it was common practise to teach 'transferable
skills' from a non Windows platform then. Now I think there would have
to be some very clear cut benefits to convince schools and parents that
it was a good idea.

  

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Re: [backstage] Make the primary operating system used in state schools free and open source

2009-02-10 Thread Fearghas McKay


On 10 Feb 2009, at 12:20, Neil Aberdeen wrote:

Interesting as all these discussions are schools will have what's  
given to them and supported under BSF monoploy IT provision (see http://www.edugeek.net/wiki/index.php/List_of_awarded_ICT_contracts) 
 unless there is resistance and/or failure (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7841850.stm)


That only applies to England, not Scotland. It looks like Wales is  
devolved as well.


So move to the North or the West :-)

f


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RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Richard Smedley

On Mon, 2009-02-09 at 23:15 +, Christopher Woods wrote:
 different in its model, aiming itself as it does as a social enterprise for
 the voluntary and educational sectors. How many schools do you serve in
 your
 locality? (just curious...) Your model obviously works exceptionally well
 for what you do, but I wonder how big your client base is versus how big it
 could potentially be if you supported every school in the area - you could
 get very big, very fast, or the ground could open up for competition and
 aside from lower costs to the end users, there might be an even greater
 disparity in levels of support or the kinds of solutions delivered.

As I said in the previous e-mail, school support doesn't scale well. We
work through schools to reach families on the wrong side of the digital
divide, and also to work with local community organisations, but don't
bother offering IT support to the education market - it simply isn't worth
it :-/

  The model of maintaining individually-installed apps over
  several discrete PCs was all very well in the 80s, and
  possibly the 90s, but how long before schools catch up with
  the rest of the world. PCs in schools are mandated to teach
  curriculum areas - this can easily be delivered through 500 -
  600 web apps. The whole curriculum.  A small investment from
  government (less than 1% of the UK's annual school IT spend)
  would get all of these apps written. Released under the GNU
  GPL, they would be tweaked and improved by thousands of
  teachers and students.


  Given web apps, designed to work with standards-compliant
  browsers, it becomes irrelevant which platform is used to
  view them, save on grounds of cost and maintainability. The
  obvious choice then is LTSP.


 Personal opinion: 95% of web apps just don't cut it. If you're talking
 about

I'm suggesting 500 or 600 wholly new web apps, designed to cover the whole
curriculum. A framework would be specified, and commissions given to *UK*
developers - including bids from schools.

Of course the EU won't let us do it, but there's probably a creative way
to frame the tender process. After all, other countries manage.

 If I was a teacher I would hate it hate it hate it
 if I couldn't teach a class because the main host server was bogged down
 with too many intensive tasks, or it fell over or lagged out or needed
 to be failed over for some reason.

Look at some real world LTSP in schools. Skegness
http://schoolforge.org.uk/index.php/Skegness_Grammar
have multiple application servers, and seem to have experienced
zero downtime so far.

 to be desired. If I was speccing a school's IT, I don't think thin clients
 would get much way past the first round of planning unless some incredibly
 well-designed thin client solutions were brought to my attention (and then
 you're talking equivalent prices for thin clients as you would for regular
 MiniATX desktops).

As has been pointed out elsewhere in the thread, thin clients have a
long life (average 8 to 9 years). A point used by Sun in its sales -
and the result can be seen in at least one high street bank, and
many other large businesses.

 I'm still personally very sceptical of thin client solutions, I don't think
 their capabilities ar sufficient to satisfy all the potential uses for
 educational machines.

Music and video editing obviously need their own
high-power PCs.

 And I wouldn't like to have all that total reliance on
 just a handful of extremely powerful servers; it's bad enough when the
 Internet proxy server goes down or the network drive can't be accessed
 because the Active Directory is having a fit, but to have a classful of
 children sitting in front of dumb terminals when the primary host server
 for that classroom's client machines goes down? Wuh oh.

Last year Salford University moved its School of Computing to thin
client - it's saved them no end of problems.  Single-point-of-failure
risks are easily addressed, but 100s of individual machines will always
be a pain :-(

In many (most?) of the school labs that I have
visited, half of the (Windows) PCs are not working
properly - e.g. CD tray will not open - due to
creative play from the students (e.g. constantly opening
and closing the tray). A malfunctioning PC is an expensive
piece of junk. A broken thin client at Skegness Grammar
goes in the recycling, and a new one comes out of the
cupboard: 30 seconds later it's up and running.

 There must be
 some reason other than bloody-mindedness that makes schools keep on going
 for full-PC solutions time after time though...

When you don't know enough to make a purchasing decision,
you just buy what everyone else does. Going any other way
takes a brave Head Teacher, and Heads have enough on their
plates.

 I do aim to do more work in
 the educational sector as my own business gets going in the next few years,
 and I want to offer all kinds of viable solutions as long as they work well
 for everybody. Do you really think that setups like the 

RE: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Richard Smedley

A postscript:

Anyone interested in helping to improve the
IT situation in schools (through FOSS) may be
interested in membership of Schoolforge-UK.

http://groups.google.com/group/sf-uk-discuss/about

The website contains many case studies, and the
(low traffic) mailing list a number of interesting
threads on the subject.

SF-UK is also involved in organising events such
as FLOSSIE (Free Libre  Open Source Software
in Education) - the next one takes place in July.

Cheers,

 - Richard





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Re: [backstage] Make the primary OS used in state schools FOSS

2009-02-10 Thread Fearghas McKay


On 10 Feb 2009, at 17:57, Richard Smedley wrote:

I'm suggesting 500 or 600 wholly new web apps, designed to cover the  
whole
curriculum. A framework would be specified, and commissions given to  
*UK*

developers - including bids from schools.

Of course the EU won't let us do it, but there's probably a creative  
way

to frame the tender process. After all, other countries manage.


Mark Shuttleworth is developing a set of education material coursework  
that can be freely distributed. I met someone at the Over The Air  
event last year who had been working on it, based out of South Africa  
of course but intended for worldwide distribution.


f
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